HC Deb 05 February 2004 vol 417 c1017W
Tom Brake

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 21 January 2004,Official Report, column 1251W, on Chechnya, what plans his Department has to make direct representations to the Chechen authorities regarding human rights conditions in Chechnya. [152347]

Mr. Rammell

The respect of human rights in Chechnya is primarily the responsibility of the Russian Federal Government. Consequently UK Government representations have been, thus far, to the Federal Government. That said, we are currently considering appropriate representations to the local authorities in Chechnya regarding human rights. However, this is complicated by the fact that our diplomats in Moscow are precluded by security considerations from travelling to Chechnya.

Mr. Blunt

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has collated of Chechen involvement in(a) conflicts in (i) Afghanistan, (ii) Iraq and (iii) Kashmir and (b) terrorism against (iv) EU and (v) USA interests since 1 January 2001. [152575]

Mr. Rammell

Some Chechen extremists had clear links to terrorists in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Chechen groups set up an "embassy" in Kabul in early 2001. Some Chechens fought with the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the Northern Alliance and subsequently against Coalition forces. We have no strong evidence of Chechen involvement in Iraq, although some media bulletins have reported Chechens in military action there. We have no evidence of Chechen involvement in the conflict in Kashmir.

EU and US nationals have been kidnapped by Chechen militants. Arjan Erkel, a Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) worker and Dutch citizen, was kidnapped in Dagestan in August 2002 and remains in captivity to this day, and Kenneth Gluck, a MSF worker and US citizen, was held by militants for a short time in January 2001. A number of EU (including UK) and US nationals were taken hostage during the Dubrovka theatre siege in October 2002. One US, one Dutch, and one Austrian citizen died during the rescue attempt by Russian security forces.

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